Literacy is a gift, so use it wisely

0402EditorialWhile newspapers struggle to find an audience and books accumulate layers of dust on shelves, worldwide literacy rates continue to climb.

We receive our news in 140 characters or less, and most of us only read classic novels when they are assigned in class, but more and more people are acquiring the skills to read and write effectively every day. The arrival of the digital age is a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless.

Regardless, the phrase “not all reading is good reading” immediately comes to mind when we examine the literary comprehension skills of the average American citizen.

According to a 2012 poll conducted by The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 14 percent of American citizens over the age of 16 read below a fifth-grade level, while a staggering 29 percent only read at the eighth-grade level.

True, literacy rates have been rising steadily for the past several years, but what is the point of having these skills if so many people use them only to check up on the latest celebrity gossip, scroll through a Facebook feed or read off a menu at a restaurant?

More people are reading, but fewer are reading things that actually matter.

When was the last time you read a novel that wasn’t assigned to you by an instructor?

When was the last time you cracked open a book and read solely for your own enjoyment?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with skimming through a blog or magazine every now and then.

Not every source of entertainment has to be highbrow, and we all have our guilty pleasures.

The problem lies in the fact that far too many people are unwilling to deviate from this type of reading material. So much could be gained from reading a proper novel every now and then, but many people squander this opportunity every time they scroll through their Twitter feed or open a magazine.

If novels aren’t your thing, you can follow a number of informative websites, Facebook or Twitter pages. Major news sources or publishers provide a lot of free information online, and you can still improve your literacy skills with short browsing sessions.

Literacy is a privilege, so we must learn to make the most of it.

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